Light my Way (HDR Vertorama)

Light my Way (HDR Vertorama)

The story of this photo

This is a 12-shot HDR Vertorama taken at the St. Micheal’s Cathedral in Toronto, Canada. This was actually the first series of source photos I took at this place when I was still very much in a scouting kinda mode. I found the church almost empty at that time and I felt that I would take a quick series of shots just to have them under my belt. I was pretty sure that I was going to come back to this place to make a few more serious attempts at taking the shots since I was fascinated with the rich colors of the ceiling.

I actually did come back a couple of times, but the church was either closed or there was a service being held. So, this was really the only chance I got to take the photographs.

Lesson learned: You may not get a second chance. Of course, this is true in all types of photography involved with people, but it can also be true for architecture photography. Use every chance to take good photos.

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How the photos were shot

How the image was created and tonemapped

  • CA reduction [tutorial] and white balance correction on all source exposures in Adobe Camera Raw
  • Saved the developed RAW images as TIFFs
  • Applied noise reduction (Topaz Denoise) to each of the source images [tutorial]
  • Resulting TIFFs were then used as input to Photomatix (Details Enhancer option) to produce 4 HDR images
  • The 4 tone-mapped HDR images were stitched together in Photoshop
Light my Way (HDR Vertorama) - Dynamic Before-and-after

Take a look at the Dynamic Before-and-After feature for this image. It lets you slide back and forth between the original and the processed image.

How the tonemapped image was post-processed

  • Post-processing was done in Photoshop CS6
  • Topaz Adjust for enhancing the colors and the lighting [tutorial]
  • Topaz InFocus for sharpening
  • Local adjustments
    • The white wall and pillars
      • Saturation layer (desaturation)
      • Levels layer to fine-tune the contrast
    • The wooden benches
      • Curves layer to get more contrast
    • The ceiling
      • Topaz Detail to bring out the details and the colors
      • Curves layer to get more contrast
      • Darkening all the edges in the patterns to bring out the structures
      • Added a spotlight to the ceiling [video tutorial]
    • The carpet in the aisle
      • Saturation layer colorize (green)
      • Levels layer for better contrast
  • Global adjustments
    • Levels and Saturation layers for global fine-tuning
  • Slight vignetting [text tutorial] [video tutorial]
  • Watermarking [text tutorial]
  • Some additional sharpening using the High-Pass method [text tutorial]
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6 replies
  1. Roland Shainidze
    Roland Shainidze says:

    Hi Klaus,

    Very big fan of your HDR photography and especially a vertorama work!
    But I think you made a factual mistake when you referred to this church as a Chinese church, it is St. Micheal’s cathedral, Roman Catholic Church. Just wanted to point out.

    Keep up great work.


    Roland Shainidze

    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Davide,

      you could use an 8mm rectilinear lens just as well as a 10mm. I simply do not have an 8mm lens. Sigma builds one though.


  2. Jim Scott
    Jim Scott says:

    I think your info is the best,but I do have a question. Do you ever critique any Images? I do have one twelve exposure vertarama of our local “Basilica of Saint Josaphat” that I believe is pretty well done and I’d love to have you see it, and tell me what you think.

    Thank You,
    Jim Scott (scottski39 on flickr)


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  1. […]  Light my Way (HDR Vertorama) – an absolutely breathtaking piece illustrates a terrific written article that discusses in good detail the steps involved in creating the picture.  Klaus Herrmann’s post includes links to previous tutorials he has created on specific features and processes, turning this singular article into a comprehensive piece that reveals as little or as much as the reader is interested in. […]

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